Le Locle is the birth- and work-place of Daniel JeanRichard, initiator of the Swiss watchmaking industry way back in 1672. He established the system of établissage, wherein a watch would be constructed from components created by specialist suppliers. So it is appropriate that, on my recent visit to the heart of the Swiss watch industry, I stopped in Le Locle and constructed my own watch!
With so many brands making watches it can be difficult to track down some of the oddballs you run across. Such was the case recently when I stumbled on a lovely tonneau-cased Paul Picot Firshire Chrono for sale at auction. I had never heard of the brand or model, and the description was less than helpful. So I set about learning more.
When it comes to watch complications, a minute repeater is one of the more unusual and entertaining. Press a button and a two-tone chime will ring out the number of hours and five-minute intervals past the hour. You’ll be able to tell the time without looking, and everyone around you will marvel at your watch just as surely as if it was covered in diamonds or skeletonized to show the gears working inside.
This is a web site about grails: Watches people spend their lives looking for. Approximately zero people will spend their lives looking for a beat up, common, 1970’s Breitling like this Datora 592. But I bought it, and I thought it might be interesting to my readers to know why and what I’m doing next.
How would you like to own an extremely rare and interestingly complicated watch from a legend of independent Haute Horology? This worn but interesting world timer watch was constructed by Svend Andersen in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ journey to the new world. And it’s definitely worth the starting bid of € 4,000.
Some grails are special because of their association with history (see my piece on the “Scuderia Ferrari” Zenith, for example), while others are just plain odd. This is the latter. The Girard Perregaux Casquette (Ref. 9931) is a mid-1970’s LED quartz watch with innovations throughout. It’s just too bad the quartz revolution ended with a whimper instead of this kind of excitement!
Sometimes when browsing watches one stumbles upon something that seems seriously out of place. Such was the case when I spotted a Scuderia Ferrari-branded Zenith Chronograph in the listings for tomorrow’s Chrono24/Auctionata auction: Sure, there are Ferrari-branded watches today, but this one dates to “around 1950” and has a yellow logo!
When it comes to stealth complications, this H. Moser & Cie. Perpetual One is about as good as it gets. Lurking under an understated and classy exterior is a mean horological machine with a perpetual calendar and double barrel power to last all week!
Can a “grail” be attainable? Sure! It just depends on how much money you have and how hard you’re willing to work for it. And some grails aren’t limited in production, just in availability. It’s awfully hard to find a Nomos or an Arnold & Son in a store, and Seiko Credor are unavailable in most markets.
Few modern watchmakers have the charisma of Peter Speake-Marin, and his watches are jealously collected and guarded by enthusiasts. It is always remarkable when one of his pieces comes up for sale, and especially so when it’s one of the hand-engraved “Collection 2” models decorated by Kees Engelbarts.